Twitter faced backlash Wednesday when it accidentally removed accounts that had been documenting Russia's military actions related to Ukraine. The accounts have become rich pools of open-source intelligence for people monitoring the situation. Twitter attributed the removals to human error.
"We’ve been proactively monitoring for emerging narratives that are violative of our policies, and, in this instance, we took enforcement action on a number of accounts in error," spokesperson Trenton Kennedy said. "We’re expeditiously reviewing these actions and have already proactively reinstated access to a number of affected accounts."
Rumors swirled Wednesday that the accounts had been removed due to mass reporting by Russian forces. But that is "inaccurate," Kennedy said.
Twitter's head of site integrity Yoel Roth also responded to concerns about Russian forces gaming Twitter's reporting system. "We do not trigger automated enforcements based on report volume, ever, exactly because of how easily gamed that would be," Roth tweeted.
Still, mass reporting is a concern that platforms will have to contend with. As Protocol reported, platforms must also grapple with what it means to remove disinformation at a time when those posts may be considered evidence by policymakers, human rights experts and even historians, of the circumstances and narratives that drove what world leaders are now calling an invasion.
Kennedy said that Twitter is on the lookout for actions that violate its platform manipulation policy, which forbids artificially amplifying or suppressing information, as well as its policy against state-affiliated information operations. "[O]ur first priority is to enforce our rules and remove accounts engaging in this behavior," Kennedy said. "When our investigations are complete, we disclose accounts and content."